Conceding an early goal. Going 2-0 down without reply. Unsavoury, unnecessary full-time scenes. Without doubt, it was an afternoon to forget for Tottenham and Antonio Conte.
Given both side’s recent form, Sunday was also going to be a long afternoon for Tottenham, but we didn’t make lives easy for ourselves from the off.
Arsenal arrived at N17 unbeaten in six games, five of which they had won, whilst for Spurs, we entered the weekend with three wins, a draw, and two losses in the same period.
Even with home advantage, we were never the favourites, but the return of Kulusevski and Richarlison at least gave fans a hint of optimism, although it was quickly a case of the same old Tottenham.
Whilst Arsenal had chances, Spurs had a largely quiet start to the game, with it taking 17 minutes for Son to have our first shot, and coincidently best chance (Understat), as Ramsdale was forced into the first of several good saves.
However, by this time, some poor defending by Sessegnon coupled with a horrendous piece of goalkeeping from Lloris had already seen us punished with Arsenal drawing first blood and putting us on the back foot.
In typical Tottenham fashion, out with Son’s effort we offered little in reply, and after another few attempts from the visitors Odegard was allowed far too much space and time on the ball and fired a well-hit strike past Lloris.
2-0. Game over.
Granted, for relatively unexplainable reasons, we always going to improve in the second half, but against a well-drilled Arsenal side we’d have needed a miracle to perform a Leeds or Bournemouth-esc comeback.
True to form, we emerged from halftime as a side transformed; almost unrecognisable – pressing and attacking with purpose, but unfortunately it was to no avail.
Compared to our first-half efforts registering just 0.43xG, ending the game with 1.71xG showed marked improvement, with Kane and Sessegnon coming close early in the half only to be denied by Ramsdale on both occasions.
Whilst we did continue creating some chances, there was little else that really troubled the Arsenal defence as they looked disappointingly comfortable in emerging with all three points.
The result itself was a damming reflection of Spurs’ current state, as it’s the first Arsenal has done the league double over us since 2007/08 (Transfermarkt).
And whilst I’m not saying we’re in the same position as back then, as we’re far from it, it’s hard to look at recent results and not think something has to change.
However, that’s a whole other conversation and at least for now, a can of worms I’d rather not open, but there’s still a few key takeaways more specifically from Sunday’s action.
Sarr stands out again
If nothing else, one positive Spurs fans can take from Sunday’s derby was the performance of Sarr in midfield.
Retaining his place from last weekend’s FA Cup win over Portsmouth where he was named man of the match, the Senegalese put up an impressive three tackles and interceptions apiece (Sofascore) and once again played with a certain maturity that is rare from a player in his position and age.
Injuries have certainly thrust him into the side, but Conte clearly trusts Sarr being willing to start him in such a big game, so it’s exciting to see what’s in store for his future.
Is it time to drop Son?
Despite his recent goal at Crystal Palace, Son’s poor form has unfortunately continued with the Korean again putting in a sub-par performance on Sunday.
In fairness, he was hardly alone in that respect, but with the return of Kulusevski and Richarlison from the treatment table and the rumoured arrival of Brighton’s Leandro Trossard Conte might well consider benching Son in the near future.
When’s he good, he’s great; there’s no question of it, but too often this season Son has been ineffective and is the clear weak link in an otherwise strong frontline.
However, with two games against Manchester City on the horizon, one of Son’s historically favourite opponents, it could be worth holding out and giving him another few games.
How many more chances should Lloris get?
In what might just be his last North London Derby, the Spurs captain had an afternoon to forget.
The Frenchman was caught dwelling on the ball consequently gifting Nketiah a chance he really should have scored, and just five minutes later he was at fault for Arsenal’s opener.
Granted, he wasn’t helped by Sessegnon’s apparent reluctance to close Saka down, but he should have done far better with the subsequent effort palming the oncoming cross-come-shot into his own net.
Lloris has been a leader and the bedrock of Spurs’ team for years, regularly having moments of brilliance that keep us in games, but a massive caveat of that is he too often has irreversible unforced errors that have cataclysmic effects.
Compared to Ramsdale – his opposite number on Sunday, Lloris simply looked like a player in decline and it’s hard not to question how long he has left in the Spurs team.
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